Today Kickstarter announced that the campaign for Loona the pet robot was taken down by a copyright claim. In the original email and announcement on the website it was not communicated what exactly was the cause of this, but some people (inclusing me) immediately suspected a company that is well known to take down competition with dirty tricks:
Digital Dream Labs.
Of course. I am not surprised in the least, it fits their modus operandi perfectly. And it is clear to me that Hanchar and his cronies waited till the end of the campaign to create maximum damage and to prevent the Loona christmas delivery. This is obvious, because if they really had valid copyright claims those could have been filed weeks ago after the campaign started. That they waited this long in my opinion is a clear indication they want to prohibit the xmas delivery.
The claims shown above are of course utter nonsense. It is obvious that the form factor of Loona is dramatically different from Vector or Cozmo, so “unique shape” and “design of heads, faces” cannot be the point. When it comes to Loona’s eyes, even those are clearly different from Vector’s and you cannot just claim copyrights on something basic as “rectangle eyes with rounded corners”. You simply cannot copyright something tha basic. They can only make a point if they can proof that KEYi used their eyegraphics or animations – and what we saw from the early videos that is clearly not the case. The same goes for the sounds, a distant similarity does not count.
And also the “actions/animatronics” are vastly different on Loona, since the form factor of the new robot and the drive mechanisms are completely different.
It is quite obvious here that Digital Dream Labs again goes the copyright troll way and tries to kill competition with false claims, hoping the now following lengthy and time-consuming legal dispute will bring another competitor to their knees. Even if the claims are dismissed, there is immense damage done to KEYi. Especially if this leads to Loons not being able to delivered for christmas – people paid extra money for that, and thus people will not be happy.
So clearly affected campaign backers should point their frustration towards Digital Dream Labs and not KEYi.
Digital Dream Labs must have become quite desperate – and of course they are. They were not able to provide anything of note so far (only a barely working Escape Pod with missing fatures). Their Vector 2.0 only has minimal improvements to the Anki version and is years behind technologically, since they missed the opportunity to really improve the robot software (and hardware) for 2.0. They were not able to improve the robot’s programming or to add new features. All they did so far were very minor hardware improvements. Aside from that the firmware and the server software got worse with every update and a lot of users that actually got their Vector 2,0s are reporting a multitude of problems. In addition to that they created problems for 1st generation Vectors by forcing their buggy firmwares onto them, creating overheating problems that they deny until today, even if those problems were objectively confirmed by a lot of users. Plus some users report a multitude of other problems with Vector 2.0 that will generate a lot of problems for DDL. I cannot imagine the logistics for returning and exchanging robots all over the world that are DOA. This alone will probably break their neck.
OSKR, the OPEN SOURCE KIT for ROBOTS still is nowhere to be seen and it looks like development has stopped on that, since ther was no update for ages. Nearly none of what was promised on Kickstarter for OSKR was delivered. So basically that was a scam, there is no other word for it.
Butter Robot is nowhere to be seen. That drone of theirs is nowhere to be seen. Cozmo 2.0 is nowhere to be seen.
Digital Dream Labs is falling short in almost all aspects, has a horrible community management, an even more abysmal project management, they act unprofessionally and incompetent since they took over the Anki assets. And that in my opinion is the case why they do everything in their power to kill competition, especially competition with far better and more advanced robots than their sorry Vector 2.0 and competeition that actually communicates transparently with their backers and customers. In addition to that they ghost customers that want their preorder money back because of the ridiculous delivery timeframes. And they unlawfully charged credit cards for cancelled subscriptions in multiple cases (we cannot know how many customers did not even notice that).
All the best to KEYi and Loona. Don’t let those bullies wear you down.
And from my deepest heart: All the worst to Digital Dream Labs. Frankly I do no longer care if they go under. I can tether all my 1st gen Vectors to Wire-Pod and DDL will never see another single penny from me ever again anyway. They have broken Vector, they scammed the backers, they lied multiple times to their user base and they act unrespectful. And after this stunt: Good riddance once and for all.
What a shitshow.
Update: The above image with the DMCA claim as text:
Meet Loona – The most Intelligent Petbot [Submitted by Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, LLP]
Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, LLP
115 PINERIDGE ROAD
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15237
Sent via online form
228 Park Ave S PMB 59430
New York, New York 10003-1502 US
Re: Meet Loona – The most Intelligent Petbot
Description of copyrighted material: The copyrighted material is protected, in part, by two US registered copyrights issued on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, at Reg. Nos. PA 2-266-064 and PA 2-266-065 (copies can be provided upon request). These copyrights cover the “three-dimensional sculpture and audiovisual work” of two interactive Vector and Cozmo robots owned by Digital Dream Labs, LLC (“DDL”). The copyrighted materials includes the unique shape and design of the heads, faces and eyes of the Vector and Cozmo robots and also the graphics/animatronics and sounds associated with the actions of the robots. Copies of the deposits for both copyrights registrations also can be provided upon request. Also, the Vector and Cozmo robots can be seen here: https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/ https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/pages/meet-vector https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/pages/meet-cozmo Vector and Cozmo are robotic companions made to socialize and assist the user. Powered by artificial intelligence (“ai”) and advanced robotics, they are full of personality and engaged by sight, sound, and touch. In addition, earlier copyrighted audio material and other intellectual property rights of DDL are described in a Second Amended Complaint which is pending in the United Stated District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania at No. 2:20-cv-01500 (a copy can be provided upon request).
Description of infringing material: The Loona robot and the entirety of the project violate and infringe the DDL copyrights and other intellectual property. In particular, the Loona robot substantially copies the facial graphics, animations and associated sounds of Vector and Cozmo associated with certain emotions or actions depicted in the Loona video or other graphics appearing on the Kickstarter project, including, without limitation Wake-up, Excited or Happy, Sad, Angry or Frustrated, Curious, and Go to Sleep. Further, the shape and design of Loona’s face and eyes copies the shape and design of the Vector and Cozmo faces and eyes. In an analogous case, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in analyzing protectable aspects of Vector and Cozmo under the audiovisual copyrights listed above stated that “the expression of such emotions through VECTOR’s and COZMO’s particularized eyes (size, shape, color, location, movement), along with the accompanying sounds creates a protectable expression of a robot’s emotions.” Digital Dream Labs, LLC v. Living Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. d/b/a Living.Ai and Emo Pet, 2:20-cv-1500, ECF No. 54 at 22 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 28, 2022) (a copy the Court’s Memorandum Opinion can be provided upon request).